Most of the time, using hook-up apps is a fun and pleasurable experience. It is also a great way to meet new people. Yet, on occasion, things can go wrong. It doesn’t matter how often you’ve had successful hook-ups in the past or how experienced or savvy an app user you are. Anyone can become a victim.
Here are some tips that can help keep you safe:
Lots of guys are shy or aren’t ready to come out yet so might be hesitant to share a face picture. Have you shared a picture of yourself? Is your potential hook-up refusing to share pictures of his face? If so, you should consider this a red flag. It could be they’re insecure about how they look. Or it could be they don’t trust you yet. That’s fair enough. Consider putting off meeting them until you’ve built up enough trust and they have shared their face pic with you.
Getting a face pic is important but a photo isn’t always real. If you’re not convinced about their face pic(s), suggest a quick live video call. It’s a quick and easy way to figure out whether your hook up is who they say they are. Most gay dating apps such as Grindr and Scruff offer video chat functionality. Or use Kik. Either way, you don’t have to share your mobile number.
If a video call isn’t his thing, or yours, ask for his social media handles. Check his profile to see if he links to them. You might get a better sense of him from what he posts on social media. You could find that you have friends in common on Instagram or Facebook. Be wary of any social media accounts that are recently created. These include ones with low follower counts that have no or few posts.
Send a text to a trusted friend or into the group chat. Particularly if it’s the first time you’re meeting your hook-up in real life. Tell them where you’re going or drop your live location. Plan a time that you’ll check in with them to let them know it’s going well or a safe word that you’ll send if you need help.
Whether he’s offered to host or if you can accommodate, it’s a good idea to meet him in a public place with people around. Take a few minutes to chat. If you get the gut feeling that something isn’t right, no matter what it is, make your excuses and leave. Your safety will always be the most essential thing. It’s not rude to change your mind!
If you go to his or bring him back to yours and the vibe changes or he does something you don’t like. Whether that’s something obviously wrong or something you can’t quite put your finger on, listen to your gut. Make your excuses and leave. If he’s at your place ask him to leave; alert your friends and the Gardaí if he won’t.
If an emergency unfolds, call 999 and ask for the Gardaí. If you’ve been the victim of abuse or crime by someone you met online, report it to the Gardaí. Reach out for support if you need it. You can find a list of supports here.
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